Ed Miliband – 2015 Keynote Speech on the NHS

The comments made by Ed Miliband, the then Leader of the Opposition, on 23 April 2015.

It is great to be here with you at Manchester Metropolitan University.

What a fantastic turn-out. And I particularly want to thank you for having us on exam day.

And I want to thank John Brookes the Vice Chancellor here at the University.

John’s going to be retiring in May after 10 years, so let’s pay tribute to him today.

And let’s also pay tribute to all of the brilliant student nurses here today who are training to work in our health service. Thank you.

The general election is getting closer and closer.

There is just over two weeks to go now.

Just over two weeks to decide what the future looks like for our country.

Not simply a competition between parties.

But a choice between two different visions of the country.

Carrying on with the Tory way, hoping that the success of a few at the top will somehow be enough for us all to succeed, and cutting our public services back to the very bone.

Or a Labour vision.

A vision of a recovery that reaches not just the City of London but the front door of every working family.

And a vision that knows we must invest in the future of our vital public services.

And there is nowhere this choice matters more than the NHS.

I don’t need to tell you here that the NHS is the most precious institution in our country.

We all have our own reasons why we love the NHS.

It looks after us when we’re born.

It cares for us when we’re sick.

And it so often cares for us also in our final days and weeks of life.

It is the proudest achievement in our country and the envy of the world.

But we know too that the NHS is facing one of the greatest threats since its foundation.

We know it has been going backwards under this government.

Harder and harder to see a GP.

More and more elderly people who can’t get the care they need at home.

And when that happens, the problems pile up in hospitals.

Patients stuck outside hospital in ambulances because A&E is full.

Seriously ill people waiting for treatment lying on trolleys in corridors for hours.

So often doctors, nurses and midwives are rushed off their feet.

Unable to do the job that they are so well-trained to do.

Two-thirds of nurses today say patients are missing out on care because there just aren’t enough nurses on the wards.

Today we hear the news that one-in-three NHS Trusts were investigated last year over safe staffing.

And none of this has happened by accident.

It has happened as a direct result of choices this government has made.

A government that has wasted billions on a top-down reorganisation that no-one wanted.

A government that has cut nurse training, meaning we don’t now have enough nurses.

It is a government that has cut back on GP services and care for the elderly, increasing the pressure on hospitals.

And it is a government that has overseen a creeping privatisation of our NHS.

With a Health and Social Care Act that sees precious NHS resources spent on accountants and competition lawyers.

Friends, that’s not the NHS I believe in.

It is not the NHS you believe in.

It is not the NHS the British people want to see.

Of course now there is an election on again, it is all change.

The Conservatives are committed to doubling the spending cuts next year, even deeper spending cuts than we’ve seen in the last parliament.

But now they want you to believe they’re going to spend more on the NHS.

With money they can’t identify, from a place they cannot name.

These are promises that can’t be believed.

They are false promises with an expiry date of May 8th stamped on them.

And you know, nothing is more dangerous for the future of our NHS than pretending you are going to pay for it with an IOU.

And what do the Conservatives say when asked about where they will find the money?

“Just look at our record.”

Well, we have.

And it’s failed.

I have a direct message for the British people:

For five years, the NHS has gone backwards.

For the next five if the Conservatives are returned to power the NHS will be starved of funds, it will face a rising tide of privatisation.

This is the truth.

David Cameron is now a mortal danger to the NHS.

We have a fortnight to fight for our NHS.

We have a fortnight to rescue our NHS.

That’s why the country needs Labour’s immediate rescue plan for the National Health Service.

The central idea is this: that we must invest in the NHS with a fully funded plan, so it has time to care.

And we must join up services at every stage, from home to hospital, so you get the care you need, where you need it.

That is how we make our NHS sustainable and successful for years to come.

So we’ll have a Mansion tax on properties worth over £2 million.

We will raise extra revenue from the tobacco companies.

And we’ll do something the Conservatives would never do: we’ll clamp down on tax avoidance, including by the hedge funds.

And we will use that money for a plan to transform services, and have 20,000 more nurses, 8,000 more doctors, 5,000 more care-workers and 3,000 more midwives.

So that we have what every nurse wants, every doctor wants, every patient wants:

An NHS with time to care.

And this investment will not be for an NHS that stands still but one that keeps up with the challenges of our time.

Let me tell you what I have learnt most from talking to people in the NHS.

The most important principle is that the success of what goes on inside a hospital depends on what goes on outside in the community.

When people can’t get to see their GP, many go to A&E instead.

When problems with mental health aren’t spotted early at school or work, people can end up in crisis, needing more intensive support.

When elderly people can’t get the care they need at home, they are more likely to struggle, grow ill or have a fall, and end up in hospital.

In each and every case, failing to act early is worse for the person involved and it costs more for the NHS too.

We have to give people the right care at the right time in the right place.

And that is what we will do:

We will hire more doctors and by saving resources on privatisation and bureaucracy, we will guarantee everyone who wants it an appointment with a GP in 48 hours.

Our new care workers will be a new arm of the NHS, to help elderly people with the greatest needs.

And we will meet the central challenge of the 21st century with integrated, not fragmented services.

We’ll put the right values at the heart of the NHS:

Care, compassion and co-operation.

Not competition, fragmentation and privatisation.

So we will repeal the Health and Social Care Act.

But to save the NHS from the trouble it’s in, we can’t wait.

With A&E in crisis, staff shortages, and hospitals weighed down by large deficits, this plan has to start immediately.

Straight away.

With real money, right now.

So today I can announce in our first 100 days, our first Budget, our first year in office, we’ll begin to bring in funds from the Mansion Tax and tobacco levy .

And we will use that money to support the NHS with our immediate Rescue Plan.

An emergency round of nurse recruitment.

Funding for 1,000 extra training places this year.

Getting extra resources into the NHS right from the very start.

First things first: We’ll save the NHS.

To begin easing frontline pressures as soon as we can.

To begin bringing down the spiralling bill for agency staff.

To begin opening the doors of places just like this to more talented young people.

Giving them the opportunities they need.

And to do this on their first day in office, Labour ministers will instruct officials to write to colleges and universities, and call on them to reopen admissions for highly-oversubscribed nursing courses this year.

And we’ll take further action too, so we can get more nurses on the wards straight away, we’ll persuade nurses to stay in practice and to return to practice.

This is part of our plan for 20,000 more nurses.

And let me say to all of the student nurses here today, that by putting in more resources, it will mean that there are jobs for you to go to in the NHS.

Using your dedication, your commitment and your compassion for the health of our country.

And that is only the start of our rescue plan for the NHS.

We are also going to begin immediate planning to avoid an A&E crisis for the coming winter.

Improving GP access and ensuring there are GPs in all A&Es.

Increasing the numbers of clinically-trained NHS staff on the 111 phoneline.

And we’ll take action to tackle the increasing scandal of ‘delayed discharges’, where patients end up stuck in hospital when they could be being looked after at home.

And we’ll immediately halt the cost and chaos of privatisation in our National Health Service.

With a Bill to Parliament to repeal the Health and Social Care Act within the first 100 days of a Labour government.

Because the right principles and the right care go hand in hand in our NHS.

So this is our plan.

And as I look around this room today, I know that you are the future of our NHS.

We have the best doctors and nurses in the world.

The pride of our country.

Our job – my job as Prime Minister – would be to help you do all you can to make the difference.

To care.

To keep our country well.

A better plan for the NHS today.

A better plan for the NHS in the future.

Labour’s commitment to the NHS is part of who we are.

We’ve got just 16 days to start to make that difference.

Let’s not let the NHS slip further and further backwards.

Let’s show that the idea that was right for our parents and our grandparents, is right for our children and grandchildren too.

Let’s rescue our NHS.

Let’s make sure it is there for our country.

Let’s elect a Labour government.